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Saturday, July 2, 2022

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Chicago sued over Open Meetings Act Violations during COVID-19, George Floyd protests

The Better Government Association (BGA) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Chicago City Council over allegations of violations related to a series of recent conference calls that they claim violate the Open Meetings Act.

The calls were allegedly arranged by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s staff and have been described as informational briefings between her administration and city aldermen. 

According to claims in the lawsuit, the meetings “violated nearly every meaningful OMA requirement, including  the statutory obligation to provide notice of meetings, to allow public comment at meetings, and to make meetings ‘convenient’ and ‘open’ to the public.”

The lawsuit claims the meetings were held without public notice and without providing opportunities for citizens to observe or participate.

“The Open Meetings Act ensures that the actions of our government are not conducted in improper secrecy,” said Josh Burday, an attorney with Loevy and Loevy, which represents the BGA. “Transparency in government is critical, and the right of the public to attend and speak at meetings ensures that transparency.”

Recordings of the meetings have been reportedly shared with reporters and circulated since on social media.  Topics ranged from the city’s response to COVID-19 to the handling of protests following the death of George Floyd.

The suit was filed with the Cook County Circuit Court.

The Open Meetings Act was designed to ensure residents of Illinois had access to their government and strengthen the transparency laws in Illinois to hold government more accountable. 

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